6. And He (Jesus) said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” -John 2:16-17 Context: John 2:13-17
Jesus loved the house of God! It pained Him to see it misused and become more of a marketplace than a place for the people of God to worship, and a place where the lost could hear about God and be saved. Many Jews had travelled long distances to come to the feasts at Jerusalem. It may well have met a need for them to be able to purchase a sacrifice outside the Temple. But the leaders demanded that only Temple money could be used, and when people exchanged their money for Temple money, the unnecessarily high exchange rate gave the leaders great profit. On top of that, this loud money changing was happening in the Court of the Gentiles. Gentiles could not go further into the Temple complex, meaning the only place at the Temple complex they could hear about God gave them the wrong idea about God and His people. Sadly, so many times we are also guilty of coming to church for all the wrong reasons. Many times we ask, “What’s in it for me?” rather than coming with a heart to worship and pray. Many times we have little regard for the lost among us, or making sure their experience in the church leads them closer to God, not further away. Maybe Jesus needs to turn over some of our ways of thinking about church!
7. Jesus answered and said to him (Nicodemus), “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” -John 3:3 Context: John 3:1-3
Nicodemus came to Jesus at night: Nic at night! Nicodemus was a great leader who wanted to “pat Jesus on the back,” but not in public during the day when it might affect his own reputation. Jesus blew him away by saying that he needed to be born again, something God would have to do for Nicodemus rather than something Nicodemus would do for God. WOW! We too must be born again, letting God save us by faith and not by our works! To get to Heaven requires more than being physically born (born of water, as in when a pregnant woman’s “water breaks”). To get to Heaven we need to be spiritually born, and that happens when we turn away from self-reliance and receive Jesus by faith. If you will provide the sinner, He’ll provide the Savior! In Revelation 20:11-15 we are told that those who never were born again, never saved from their sin, will be put eternally in the Lake of Fire. Going there is called the second death. Jesus died for our sins so we wouldn’t have to experience that awful place. If you are only born once, you will die twice; But if you are born twice, you’ll only die once! If you’ll turn to Jesus for salvation, you will be born again!
8. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. -John 3:16-17
What more can be said? If you believe in Jesus, you will have everlasting life. The punishment due your sins will graciously be transferred timelessly on to Christ and what He did for sinners on the cross. That’s why we call it GRACE – God’s riches at Christ’s expense. In His mercy we don’t get what we do deserve, because Christ bore our punishment. In His grace we get what we don’t deserve – Christ’s perfect righteousness will count for us on judgment day (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). John 3:17 says that Jesus came the first time to save sinners who otherwise had no hope, justly condemned because of their sin. John 3:36 goes on to say that those who never turn to Christ are still rightly under the wrath of God. I hope you believe in Jesus! Obviously this is more than intellectual belief, but it does include the facts of the gospel – that you are a sinner incapable of saving yourself, but who Christ is and what He has done for you is sufficient to save you. That belief will involve trust in Him, love for Him, and commitment to follow Him. And His gift to you for this belief will be eternal life and eternal relationship with the God who created you!
9. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. -John 4:24 Context: John 4:19-24
It is useless to say that we love Jesus in a “spiritual” way but not be applying His truth to our lives. There is a false definition of love out there that calls for an ooey gooey feeling of love but refuses to be grounded in scriptural truth. Some have gone so far that in the name of a loving spirit they do things that violate what’s taught in the Bible. They are in sin and need to repent, and some among them are not born again believers at all. The opposite problem also happens – some are so cold-hearted that even though they zealously defend Biblical truth they never get along with any other believers, even on secondary or tertiary issues. Jesus here calls us to worship God in both spirit and truth!
10. (Jesus said) “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” -Mark 1:15 Context: Mark 1:14-15
Repent is not just some old fashioned word that Bible thumpers like me use! It is a command from Jesus to turn from our sinful preoccupation with self and selfish way of doing things, and believe the gospel. The word gospel means good news! It is good news that the God who created us died to save us and is desirous of not only relationship with us but will guide us into discovering His ways for us. Believers turn from their own selfish kingdom to letting the King reign in and through them. That’s what the kingdom of God is – Jesus Christ’s ruling over His creation, one heart at a time now, and over all things later! The word repent actually means a change of mind. The sinner used to think they were okay, now they know they are sinners before a holy God who is right to judge their rebellion. The sinner used to think that Jesus was just a religious option, now they know He is the Son of God, God the Son, and the only means of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). The sinner used to think that salvation had to include their own deeds somehow, now they understand that salvation is received by God’s grace alone through their faith alone in Jesus Christ and His work alone!